Paratrooper Falls to Death In Exercise

A recently certified paratrooper was killed on Friday after his parachute malfunctioned as he jumped from a plane in Kompong Speu province, Defense Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said.

The man fell to his death at about 8 a.m. during a post-graduation exercise for hundreds of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers who had recently completed four years of specialized training to become paratroopers, General Socheat said. He attributed the death to a “technical problem.”

“He fell down to the ground and died because his parachute did not work…. It’s a technical problem—we can’t blame anyone,” he said, adding that an investigation into the fatality would be carried out to avoid similar incidents.

“This is a lesson we have to learn for the future,” he said, declining to name the paratrooper.

The accident continues what has been a rough few months for paratroopers, touted as among the best trained forces in the military.

During a rehearsal for the National Games opening ceremony in Phnom Penh in October, six of eight soldiers from the elite Brigade 911 paratrooper unit completely missed their target—the 60,000-capacity Olympic Stadium—and landed among traffic in surrounding streets. One paratrooper was left hanging from a lamppost outside a gas station.

Chap Pheakdey, commander of Brigade 911, blamed the mishap at the time on “technical errors.”

Later, during the opening ceremony for the games, a paratrooper missed his mark and landed in the stands.

“That was caused by wind, so it’s not caused by anyone,” Gen. Socheat said.

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